Sunday, January 6, 2008

The 245MPG City Car

I just wrote a check for $14,733 to  Marc Korchin at Green Motors in Berkeley for a tiny, under-powered, short range, 25 mph electric car. And, I’m happy I did. 

The car in question is the all-electric Zenn 2.22LX by Zenn Motors ( It’s classified as a low speed vehicle (LSV). That means it is designed for traveling within urban centers - your neighborhood - and cannot be taken on the highway. 

That’s okay by me because like most American’s 55% of my driving takes place in the city. And the Zenn is exceedingly efficient at city driving. Not even our Honda Civic Hybrid can touch the Zenn in terms of its operating costs (1 cent per mile) or emissions (zero). The Zenn is by any practical definition of the word, perfect at doing what it is designed to do: Getting you from point A to point B in a city cheaper and cleaner than any other mode of transportation including walking (trust me, an electric motor is much more efficient at turning energy into work than the human body.)

Exactly how efficient is the Zenn? The EPA says it’s 245MPG efficient. This estimate is based on the energy output of a gallon of gas, which is about the same amount of energy required to charge the Zenn seven times. In expensive California where we pay 11 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity it costs $3.84 to fully charge the Zenn seven times and you’d be able to drive 280 miles on those charges. Conversely, in our Civic Hybrid, that one gallon of gas would only take us 40 miles in the city. So, the Zenn is 7 times as efficient. 

But the real feel good is the 2.42 tons of carbon dioxide that we aren’t spewing into the atmosphere each year by driving the Zenn. That’s how much CO2 the Civic Hybrid -clean as it is - dumps into the atmosphere each year, just for city driving.

Am I happy I bought the Zenn? Who cares? The Earth is.